Fox News must have had a slow week following the Fourth of July weekend. The June 6 Fox and Friends interview with Michigan Representative Thad McCotter (who plays lead guitar for The Second Amendments rock band) provides an illustrative example, especially with such hard-hitting questions from host Gretchen Carlson as, "Who is your favorite guitarist?"
She added, "And this is a special question just for you."
So who's winning the Fox Primary? Each week at Media Matters, we watch the interviews, crunch the numbers, and tell you what Fox is up to in the presidential campaign.
As the presidential primary race heats up, it's become increasingly clear that the road to the Republican nomination runs through Fox News.
Last week, for example, On The Record's Greta Van Susteren hopped aboard Sarah Palin's bus as the former Alaskan governor visited historic American sites as part of her "One Nation" tour. Van Susteren, whose husband advises Palin, devoted the entire first half of her May 31 show to the interview, asking hard-hitting questions like, "So Governor, we're on the bus. Whose idea was this bus?"
In order to keep tabs on Fox's non-stop parade of declared and potential Republican presidential candidates (some of whom, like Palin, still have lucrative Fox contracts), Media Matters is launching a new regular feature. Each week, we'll watch the interviews, crunch the numbers, and tell you what Fox is up to in the presidential campaign.
During the weeks leading up to the 2008 presidential election, Bill Sammon used his position as a top Fox News editor to engage in a campaign to link Barack Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism." Today, Media Matters revealed that Sammon subsequently acknowledged that he had "privately" believed that the socialism allegation was "rather far-fetched."
Sammon's effort to push the bogus socialism charge included an October 27, 2008, email he sent to Fox journalists highlighting what he described as "Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists" in his 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father.
Last year, five potential Republican presidential candidates (Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, and Rick Santorum) who also serve as Fox News contributors or hosts appeared on the network for more than 85 hours. Media Matters for America estimates this time to be worth approximately $54.7 million in free advertising.
Rep. Darrell Issa's past includes arrests for weapons charges and auto theft, suspicions of arson, and accusations of intimidation with a gun, but you'd hardly know it from the media's recent coverage of the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While Issa was substantially mentioned in 15 articles in the nation's largest newspapers since the last election -- including several major profiles -- only one of those articles mentioned any of these allegations. Likewise, interviewers did not ask Issa about his alleged criminal past in any of the cable or network interviews he sat for during that period.
According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News gave guests who oppose the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, more than 40 minutes of airtime from November 23 through December 6 but only about 7 minutes to supporters during that same period.
Between January 1 and October 31 of this year, five potential Republican presidential candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, and Rick Santorum -- who also serve as Fox News contributors or hosts have appeared on the network for a combined total of nearly 66 hours. Media Matters for America estimates this time to be worth at least $40 million in advertising costs.
A Media Matters for America review found that, during the week of August 24, Fox News aired 22 clips of town hall meeting attendees expressing an opinion or asking a question that opposed progressive health care reform efforts but aired zero clips of town hall attendees expressing an opinion or asking a question supporting reform.
In two studies, Media Matters documents that TV news networks have repeatedly given considerably more attention to perceived setbacks to progressive health care reform efforts than to events that signal progress for those efforts.
CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC aired at least 15 segments to discussing the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary analysis of an incomplete version of the Senate health committee's draft health reform bill, but they have aired only one segment to the CBO's analysis of the updated bill.